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September 02, 2012

Comments

Slarti, I think Dubya is a case in point that charisma depends on the recipients. Those not on a similar wavelength simply don't get it. Look at the average cult leader. You and me would say 'what a crap' but clearly he binds people by successfully appealing to a non-rational part of them. Dubya, btw like Hitler*, did not possess that from the start and his first attempts failed (he did not yet know the evangelical code for example). His cowboy image was nearly 100% fake but he learned how to project it successfully enough. He managed to sell himself as the redeemed prodigal son and left all substance to the team of old hands. He ran almost purely on likability (to the necessary 50.1%) and opposed to the soulless technocrats the Dem candidates were portrayed as.
From what I have read, Obama possessed strong natural appeal but had to work hard on oratory so he could work not just on individuals but on crowds too. Bush's aura was fake and many saw it. Obama's of course got some professional polish too but with that having worn off there is still enough natural one to have him liked even by many that do not share his policies. Even the GOP admits that they cannot beat him on likability.
An extreme case of 'charismatic leadership' devoid of any natural charisma would be North Korea. The Kims have to rely on a constant conditioning of the population to appear 'charismatic' but the whole state is built on the idea of a semi-divine leader.
Cult of personality (and Dubya was a clear case of that) needs the aura, be it real or wholly manufactured, and it needs a receptive audience for the specific type. The question is how broad that appeal is. I'd say Reagan > Obama >> Dubya which, I have to emphasize, hasn't necessarily anything to do with substance behind it. But, alas, substance clearly plays at best the second fiddle in political campaigns (one reason we have no Lincoln debates anymore).

*who took acting lessons and practiced in front of a mirror before competing in the big league.

here, find a problem with this: Bush: Charisma kid.

Besides it being WND and besides there not being an article there for me to read, I can't fault much.

the link works for me.

here's the relevant section:

And Bush — at the head of the Republican ticket –somehow retains an overall image more attractive than Gore. Fully 58 percent of the public has a favorable impression of Bush, while only 31 percent view him unfavorably.

And Bush’s better image is linked to the public’s better evaluations of him on a personal level. Bush out-polls Gore on a whole series of personal qualities. The public sees Bush as more charismatic, funnier, and more interesting — with charisma being the big one. He is also seen as having led a more interesting life, for whatever that is worth.

Besides it being WND

maybe you should answer your own questions, from now on, since only you seem to know the criteria you'll accept.

In Dubya's case, the issue may be that "charisma" just isn't quite the right word. He certainly appealed to a lot of people on a personal level. Maybe it wasn't exactly a matter of charisma, but general likability based on "he's a regular guy" or "he's like me." The latter would apply to at least some evangelicals, moreso for Bush than Gore, regardless of whether or not Gore was (nominally?) a member of an evangelical sect. Bush ran with it. Gore didn't.

At any rate, I think the rub here is that a general matter of personality is getting too fine a point put on it. Charisma may simply be too narrowly focused, thereby missing the mark.

maybe you should answer your own questions, from now on, since only you seem to know the criteria you'll accept.

I'm just using the same metric I'd expect anyone else here would use. According to Carleton Wu, once upon a time, "WND is a crap source". I could go on at length about how much WND has been reviled here in the past, but your Google skills are likely better than mine.

That aside, more charismatic than Gore is a very low bar.

Jonathan Bernstein had an interesting take last year on the politics of 'charisma'.

That aside, more charismatic than Gore is a very low bar.

Hence his running mate choice. And, I guess, Romney's too.

That aside, more charismatic than Gore is a very low bar.

But it is the relevant bar, or at least one of them. Kerry wasn't exactly a charisma machine, either, if we're talking relative charisma.

With that, I would say, to get a more absolute measure of charisma, you should see how many people who didn't vote for or generally like a given candidate would consider that candidate to be charismatic. Bill Clinton comes to mind. I've seen a lot of people who didn't like or disagreed with him acknowledge his ability to wow the crowd.

Harmut,

I’m going to disagree with you concerning Bush Sr. and W and their relationship with the Evangelical community. W and Jeb left the traditional mainline Protestantism of their family (Episcopalian and Presbyterian). They were liberal Protestants in theology and moderately conservative in their politics, and that used to be the base of the Republican Party.

When Jeb commits to Florida he converts to Roman Catholicism and when Bush Jr, commits to Texas, he becomes a Methodist submerged in the Evangelical community. Also remember his first conversion experience was with a radical Pentecostal preacher,

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/12/prayer-w

Also remember George Bush Sr’s relationship with the Evangelical communities prior to his election.

From: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/interviews/wead.html

So you were writing your memoranda for Vice President Bush because he is not evangelical, he was not as tuned in to this community and what they think, or how they feel. Can you talk a little bit about how you were trying to bridge that with him? How were you trying to explain it to him?

It's hard to describe what was on those memoranda, because we're talking about a thousand-plus pages. But in building a relationship with evangelicals, I had to define who they are, and what they believe, and what they think. So a lot of it was polling data, demographics.

Then, I had to share language, because every subculture has its own nomenclature, its own language, its own style. You can be out on the street and someone can just put one word in front of another word, and you instantly know where they're from. The same is true with the evangelical subculture.

It was important that the vice president be speaking directly to them, saying to them what he believes. I didn't want to influence what he believed, but I wanted to make sure he was communicating. So a lot of it was language and communication, and "What does this mean?" and "What do you mean when you're saying this?"

Then, I had to share language, because every subculture has its own nomenclature, its own language, its own style. You can be out on the street and someone can just put one word in front of another word, and you instantly know where they're from. The same is true with the evangelical subculture.

Are there any things that you can tell me that are specific? What are the types of things that you would have said to him?

One very big issue for Vice President Bush at the time was understanding the terminology of being "born again." I didn't know it, but in the 1980 election, he had met with some evangelical leaders at the hotel there at O'Hare Airport. They'd ask him, "Are you a born-again Christian?" and he said, "No," that he wasn't.
So, [in] my memorandum I was saying to him, "Look, Mr. Vice President, if you're asked the question, "Are you a born-again Christian?" you can't say no. You can say anything else, but you can't say no.

Even Walter Mondale did not say "No." His campaign in 1984 actually made the strategic decision of attacking fundamentalists and fundamentalist leaders as a part of their political strategy. Even with that, in the debate, he would not say no to the question, "Are you born again?" He said, "Well, my father was a minister, and I have deep respect for people of faith," and he gave a different answer.

[I said to Vice President Bush], "You, too, must find a different answer than 'No,' because we're talking"-- it was then 36 percent of the American population [was born again], today, of course, it's 48 percent. But at that time, [without] 36 percent of the American population, you can't win the Republican nomination and say 'No' to this question. Say something else, and here are some options."

Well, that raised the whole issue of, what is a born-again Christian? As an Episcopalian, actually, his own church would teach that he becomes born again at baptism. Jesus said in the New Testament, "Unless you're born again, you won't enter the kingdom of heaven. So will you enter the kingdom of heaven?" Of course, he would believe he would enter the kingdom of heaven. He's a good Episcopalian. So when did he become born again? The point is, doctrinally, his own church would teach he was born again at baptism. So you have to come up with different language. ...
So it was obvious to me that, on the one hand, this was a blind spot. This was an area that he did not understand, had not tapped, and he was in a position where it was too late to publicly admit it and say it. He had to get the information.

Although George Bush Sr struggled with Evangelicals at first, Doug Wead, an Evangelical leader, Bush family friend, and a campaign adviser to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election remarks,

Then in 1988, when we won with the Bush senior campaign and carried the highest total of evangelical votes ever in American history, we lost as we always do -- the Republicans -- we lost the Jewish vote and the Hispanic vote and all those votes. We lost the Catholic vote. We were the first modern presidency to win an election and it was a landslide and not win the Catholic vote. It was barely, but we lost the Catholic vote. How did we do it? We carried 82 percent or 83 percent of the evangelical vote. I remember when it was all over-- this was one of the reasons I got a job in the White House -- but I remember when it was all over, there was great shock from me and others saying, ‘Whoa, this is unhealthy.’ We immediately began going after the Catholic vote. While at the same time, we were frightened by the fact that we lost all these votes and still won the White House. The message did come home. My God, you can win the White House with nothing but evangelicals if you can get enough of them, if you get them all, and they’re a huge number.

And when it came to the son, W…he was situated dead center within the white Evangelical community:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/

http://www.amazon.com/The-Evangelical-President-Democracy-Throughout/dp/1596985186

http://www.beliefnet.com/News/Politics/2004/09/The-Real-Reasons-Evangelicals-Love-Bush.aspx

I can’t find them, but there were a proliferation of political journals where they have George W. Bush praying.

I think John Kerry was the first Democrat to receive the majority of mainline Protestant votes. They are the most white, educated, moderate and middle-class (and upper middle-class) of all of our socio-political categories. The Republican Party had given up on their foundation.

Also remember the most important question of the Bush/Gore election. “Who would you rather have a beer with?” (Didn’t Hitler start off in a beer hall? ;-)

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/who-would-you-rather-have-a-beer-with-why-2004-is-not-2012-and-obama-is-no-bush/

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2008/09/want-a-presiden/

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-20/opinion/navarrette.romney.regular.guy_1_mitt-romney-health-care-obamacare/2?_s=PM:OPINION

http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/11-05-10-idecision-pointsi-confirms-i-want-to-have-a-beer-with-george-w-bush/

But what else has happened since the Bush/Kerry election was the category of "Evangelical" which keeps changing.

From my own notes:

Ironically, it was the election of a Democratic President, Jimmy Carter and, subsequently Time and Newsweek both declaring 1976 “The Year of the Evangelical,” which brought renewed attention to an otherwise ubiquitous Protestant term. This prompted social scientists to lament the lack of empirical research on modern American Evangelicalism (Hunter 1981; Warner 1979). Since then, a torrent of research has been produced, examining the many facets and nuances of what has been understood as a movement. These studies usually identify Evangelicals, using dissimilar approaches to measure belief, behavior, and belonging, even within the same research. Consequently, observations concerning the demographic and religious characteristics of American Evangelicals are usually inconsistent and contradictory (Hackett and Lindsay, 2008). Studies have estimated the adult Evangelical population in the United States to be as small as 7% (Barna 2004: Smith et al. 1998) to as large as 47% (Gallup and Lindsay 1999). Historians and social scientists conscious of these conflicting images have critiqued the way studies “somewhat arbitrarily identify [respondents] as Evangelicals” (Hart 2004: 176). For many, Evangelical has morphed into a blanket term for conservative White Protestant, sometimes differentiated from fundamentalists or Pentecostals, and sometimes synonymous with fundamentalists or Pentecostals. The term “Evangelical” as a functional approach to measure an aspect of American Protestantism continues to come under criticism and many within the movement have an aversion to the term because of its theological and analytical fuzziness (Dayton and Johnston 1991; Noll 2001; Woodberry and Smith 1998), while others find its fusion with right-wing politics objectionable (Hart, XXXX).

I think it is in the Rights best interest to keep the definition of the Evangelical fuzzy, because of the growing conservative Roman Catholics and by golly Mormons.

I think it is in the Rights best interest to keep the definition of the Evangelical fuzzy, because of the growing conservative Roman Catholics and by golly Mormons.

I am both mainstream Protestant and Evangelical, apparently. It's almost as if I defy some neat & tidy classification for the purposes of making some political point or other.

As to fuzziness: it is the responsibility of label-makers to ensure that their labels are clear and legible. If you're going to throw those labels around as if they mean something, hadn't you best get to making it clear what they mean?

Well, that's the problem...since Evangelical is used in a multitude of ways, it is a pain in the ass to even use it...but it is used.

Since some people use the whole "born-again experience creed," like Doug Wead and most US Evangelicals at the national level, that would leave out Calvinists and Lutherans. A bit ironic since Luther used the term first and Calvin (with other Reformers) used the term to differentiate Protestant evangelism from Roman Catholic evangelism.

Others use it as a stand in for conservative Protestantism, but that would exclude Black and Latino conservative Protestants. Is Evangelical a racial category? So do they mean politically conservative? And if so what the hell does social policy have to do with spreading the Gospel as it was formed during the Reformation?

I wish folks would just say that their measuring white Protestants but then that would exclude Roman Catholics, ironically enough:

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1993235,00.html

Notice how many Roman Catholics are on that list. For some reason, the term Evangelical doesn’t have the same baggage as Protestant, or I don’t think Roman Catholics could make that list.

The fact that there is a type of binary between Evangelical vs. Mainline, should tell us how freaked up the category is, since technically all Protestants engage with Evangelicalism. But while most mainline Protestants were liberal in theology and moderate in politics, their clergy was dominated by Leftist (and I say that as a Leftist Protestant). All that to say, I can only use the term the way it is used by the culture at large, recognizing the problems that even has.

Sorry about that link:


http://tinyurl.com/324ssjd

From Time Magazine:

The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America

American Evangelicalism seems to defy unity, let alone hierarchy. Yet its members share basic commitments. TIME's list focuses on those whose influence is on the rise or who have carved out a singular role

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1993235,00.html#ixzz25im7nCnV

But to go back to the topic of this thread, I think the role of government played the real defining role in the formation of the modern Evangelical category.
An example of this is, prior to the 1970s, Fundamentalists like Falwell and Bob Jones hated the way Billy Graham was using the term, and viewed the generic term Evangelical as another liberal plot at ecumenicalism, but when Jimmy Carter failed to stop investigation into the racist practices they stopped using fundamentalism and embraced Evangelicalism as an identity. Many more politically conservative Protestants needed some category that did not isolate Roman Catholics, and I suspect the term Evangelical assisted in that alliance of white Christians to redefine the role government.

As an aside, some aspiring academic could show the way the term Judeo-Christian has changed over time, as well. You know, since Jews are alright for the Right, now.

If you're going to throw those labels around as if they mean something, hadn't you best get to making it clear what they mean?

cf 'the right' and 'the left' as commonly used in political discussions, why I daresay, even on this board.

From now on I shall only use the terms to describe my hands, or my feet, or when giving directions....oh,oh, it's starting to get all fuzzy already.

Over here (were Protestantism was born) we these days make a difference between evangelisch and evangelikal, the former meaning protestant as opposed to Orthodox /Catholic/Anglican. The latter is used for a religiously conservative subgroup (iirc) not including pentecostals. I think biblical literalism is the main charcteristic. Fundamentalist is not the same anymore because its meaning has been expanded beyond protestantism and has become more or less a general synonym for 'religiously inflexible'.
---
In case I have not been clear in any previous post: I did not intend to make any statements about Bush Sr. Any references to Bush are to Dubya.
---
I use 'charisma' primarily in the sense of being able to exert influence through personality*, esp. on a scale beyond one-on-one.

*real or perceived. People can be made to believe in somebody's charisma even if little of it is actually there.

cf 'the right' and 'the left' as commonly used in political discussions, why I daresay, even on this board

I have done my best to avoid those, FWIW. Not because they're meaningless, but more because they both refer to more disparate groups of people than the labels really describe.

I would tend to think that Evangelicals as a label would have to attach to Christians that actively evangelize. Since the E in WELS means just that, I am an Evangelical.

And of course since about half of blacks are Baptist, it would attach to them as well, unless I am totally off base with what Baptists are all about.

But maybe I am being too literal. My point is: if Evangelical doesn't simply point to those who evangelize, what does it point to?

My sister voted for Bush, both times I think, because he was a godly man.

I'm still unclear on what, exactly, that meant. But that's water under the bridge.

At least over here evangelisch and evangelikal have lost all meaning of missionary activity. Although the term Evangelisation for organized in-country missionizing still exists is has lost any firm connection to denomination. A lot of evangelicals over here live in bubbles and are not really welcoming to new members or their acquisition. Recruiting is (at least that is my impression) generally very low on the Christian agenda. Roman activity in the former Eastern bloc and Britain is almost an exception (and is not at all aimed at heathens but targets almost exclusively non-catholic Christians with special emphasis on clerics).

I used to call myself an evangelical. Since so many of them were supposed to have been in Bush's camp (that was a truism in the media, but no, I don't have links handy) I stopped calling myself that. Now I think of myself as a mainline Protestant.

Anyway, I think someotherdude gets at part of it. My understanding (again from things I've read but don't have a link for) is that "evangelical" was originally a term that "Bible-believing" Christians used who didn't want to call themselves fundamentalists. Fundies were perceived as anti-intellectual (though some of the early leaders of the movement were intellectual, but nevermind). Sociologically evangelicals were more like college-educated suburbanites who were trying to distinguish themselves from the stereotype of fundies as snake-handling, ranting hicks. On evolution, for instance, evangelicals were sometimes more open to it, or at the very least they would avoid the extremes of 6 literal days and a 6000 year old universe in favor of one billions of years old (even if they had doubts about evolution as a naturalistic process). Fundies are more likely to be hardline young earther type creationists. Evangelicals want to engage with the culture and be respected by it (which can get pathetic sometimes, IMO)--fundies just see the world as the enemy.

I think that up until Dubya evangelicals were more split politically--you had the lefty element (like Ron Sider) and the conservatives and people in-between, though there was an overall rightward tilt. But then Bush came along and I remember hearing a lot about his appeal to evangelical voters, which disgusted me so much I dropped the label.

Again, no links. I'd be happy to read someone else's links either confirming or refuting my impressions. There's got to be some actual data and polls and so forth about these things, but I'm not going to look them up.

The black church is a whole separate issue. I don't know enough about that to even stereotype very much.

In case I have not been clear in any previous post: I did not intend to make any statements about Bush Sr. Any references to Bush are to Dubya.

Posted by: Hartmut

Well, I wasted some time on that one, sorry.

I would tend to think that Evangelicals as a label would have to attach to Christians that actively evangelize. Since the E in WELS means just that, I am an Evangelical.

And of course since about half of blacks are Baptist, it would attach to them as well, unless I am totally off base with what Baptists are all about.

But maybe I am being too literal. My point is: if Evangelical doesn't simply point to those who evangelize, what does it point to?

Posted by: Slartibartfast | September 06, 2012 at 05:04 PM

Here I agree with you. And that was its use primarily, prior to the 1970s. And I still use it that way in certain Protestant communities. But since the rise of the Religious Right, it has taken on many other meanings, which have nothing to do with evangelizing.


Black evangelism is hyper aware of Evangelicalisms its many meanings, so are quick to remind their audiences that they are not talking about Republican politics. But the fact that they have to explain these double meanings seems to suggest how much of an analytical vertigo the category has become.


Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) folks seem to be upset with the generic quality the term has taken and its relationship to “core values” causes.

Examples
http://blogs.standard.net/behind-the-zion-curtain/2012/08/02/lutherans-the-other-evangelicals/
http://presbyterianblues.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/a-word-we-need-to-phase-out-evangelical/


My point is that, politically conservative Anglo-Protestants needed away to talk about their ethno-racial religious identity, without bringing up the “ethno-racial”. Most of the major/popular leadership of the Mainline Protestants were engaged in civil rights, feminism, and some leftist causes, from 1950-1980s, so I think…Evangelical became away to reorganize the more reactionary and conservative elements of Anglo-Protestantism, which is now white Evangelicalism. But as Pentecostals and Charismatics began to dictate the theological contours of Evangelicalism, we see some theologically conservative Protestants (like the 2 examples above) jump ship, political solidarity be damned.


I believe the “core values” argument is really another way to discuss limiting government for a section of society. On the one hand, when it comes to the truth value of faith/religion, a conservative Presbyterian has no patience for conservative Pentecostals, and vice-versa. (I mean Arminianism is basically Roman Catholicism in Protestant drag!) But if you’re attempting to build a political coalition among all of the disparate Protestant traditions, how can you get them into one political bloc, without bringing up their common ethno-racial identity? And the oncoming conservative Catholics who believe “the road to salvation runs through Rome”? How do you make them feel comfortable, without making them feel like “Papist Prostitutes” or accuse them of “Popery”?

Anyway, at bottom is the role of the federal government, these political identities change as white privileges change as well.

My prediction for the future, wealthy Muslims begin to make common cause with the “Judeo-Christian” tradition in a battle over the government protecting polytheists. And then we will hear bigots wax eloquently about the enduring tradition of monotheism.


Another example I can think of, where religious categories stand in for ethnic or racial identity is in Northern Ireland. Where the dispute is usually framed as Catholic vs. Protestant, but it seems that it is really Irish vs. British subjects or Celts vs Scottish, English, Welsh. I understand that Irish Protestants were discriminated against along with their Catholic co-ethnics. And Anglo-Catholics may have had more privileges in No Ireland than their Celtic co-religionist.

Roman activity in the former Eastern bloc and Britain is almost an exception (and is not at all aimed at heathens but targets almost exclusively non-catholic Christians with special emphasis on clerics).
Posted by: Hartmut | September 06, 2012 at 05:39 PM

Holy shit Harmut, do you have any articles on that? There have been a recent rush of Reformed and Charismatics academics who have converted to Rome! It’s like a big deal. Ironic, since Pentecostalism has been mining the poorer members of Catholicism.


For Donald,

In his eye-opening Deconstructing Evangelicalism. D. G. Hart offers a definition of sorts:

Combine two cups of inerrancy, one cup of conversion, and a pinch of doctrinal affirmations; form into a patchwork of parachurch agencies, religious celebrities, and churches; season with peppy music professionally performed; and bake every generation.

Hart is a traditional Calvinist, and does a great job of tracking the changes in meaning of the term Evangelical. His other book is valuable From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism. He used to refer to himself as an Evangelical and he is a political conservative, but believes the term has benefited the Republican Party, but horrible for theology and conservative thought.

On the liberal side, Martin Marty, a Lutheran, explains this phenomena, as well.

Friendly as I am to evangelicals, they do not recognize me as part of the born-again camp. (We Lutherans like to say we are born again daily in a "return" to our baptism through repentance, but that does not count.) I often, and gladly, accept invitations to evangelical gatherings, think tanks and schools, where I am introduced as the participant-observer "nonevangelical."
I like then to point to a linguistic irony: I am often the only person in the room whose very denomination has "evangelical" in the title and whose confessional tradition was "evangelical" in dictionary senses (gospel-centered, German-Lutheran or Reformed, mainstream Protestant) before the Newsweek version was patented in America. Ironies aside, I welcome the chance to observe and participate, finding much that is admirable as well as some that is confusing on such occasions.

From: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=184

Again, I think these Protestant identities begin to fluctuate in a big way, in the United States, when the civil rights movement, ERA and gay civil rights begin to demand protection from the state, instead of the state stepping in on behalf of the traditional hierarchies.

I think the government has had a more powerful role in forming many religious identities, more so than theology. (I think there was some Marxist who wrote about that).

Lord have mercy, I've written quite a bit.

This is what happens when I'm off my meds.

Keep it up, SOD (not Stormtroopers of Death). I'm getting a nice education. I loved this turn of phrase in your excerpt: "...before the Newsweek version was patented in America."

I second hairshirt. Very informative and worthy of a top post. I raise my kids Lutheran but generally have no idea that all of this intrigue is going on. Love learning.

I raise my kids Lutheran but generally have no idea that all of this intrigue is going on.

American Protestantism is buck wild!

SOD, great stuff. I hadn't really thought of religious identity linked to governmental action in a big way in the US,, except in the reactive way it has evolved. I'm still thinking about what you wrote, but my untutored take was that the evangelical DNA is tied up in those tent revivals. A quick look at wikipedia doesn't give dates, but I'm thinking that there was an outburst at the turn of the century (nothing like the calendar turning over to get people fired up) and another one in the 20's and 30's, coinciding with the Great Depression and a lot of the things that I think of as evangelical (baptism, speaking in tongues, call to rededicate to Christ) seem to be from those meetings. I realize that both could be true, but what is your take on that notion?

Great Awakening

Revivals were events Protestant evangelicals were engaged in; if we understand evangelical the way Slarti explained it, which I agree with, that is Protestants actively evangelizing, Revivalists prior to the 1950s, didn’t go around using the term evangelical as their identity, their religious identity was tied to their denomination. The Neo-Evangelicals (Billy Graham’s movement in the 1950s) began claiming all “evangelicals” as one and the same, downplaying the denominational differences, and emphasizing conservative Protestant solidarity.

Another way to look at it, are the various religious terms all Christians share: sanctification, justification, etc. But each Christian tradition has a different view concerning how they are possible in a sinful world. So, for a Catholic to talk about justification would not mean the same thing for a Protestant. One more, there was/is a Sanctified movement, (Methodist….Holiness tradition) that stressed sanctification in such a way that a High Church Protestant would not recognize, let alone Roman Catholic, however we would never use the Sanctified Movement’s definition speak for all the Christian traditions. Another are Episcopal and Presbyterian, the Catholic Church hierarchy has an Episcopal polity and a presbytery, but we would be sure to understand that though they share certain words together, doesn’t mean they are all the same thing. The same thing for Evangelical, it is a term all Protestants share, however the content of the Gospel message used to be tailored to the foundation of the denominational tradition.


I think of as evangelical (baptism, speaking in tongues, call to rededicate to Christ) seem to be from those meetings

Speaking in tongues was/is? A Pentecostal/Charismatics innovation (Post-1900), so I don’t think a Baptist revival would allow it. But I think this is why many traditionalists have been leaving the Evangelical label behind. Once there is a mixing of traditions, many of the attributes that define your tradition get lost. What makes this all the more ironic is the conservatives and traditionalist and fundamentalist, of the past, did not trust the liberals within their own traditions because of the generic ecumenicalism they promoted. Liberal Protestantism watered down the faith making all traditions meaningless, according to them. But then the politics of the day were different. Evangelicalism after the Neo-Evangelicals became a form of “conservative ecumenicalism” experiencing what the Fundamentalists’ predicted would happen to liberal Protestantism.

Some Notes:
The First Great Awakening (1720s-1740s) is understood as an event in which Calvinist denominations like the Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian and Congregationalists were all engaged in spectacular revivals to renew the churches. They were revitalizing their present congregants as well as reaching out for new members. These vigorous revivals were part of the evangelizing mission of the Protestant tradition. However, the “revival” was new, and the style in which the preachers engaged in were controversial and innovative. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield went on preaching tours emphasizing emotive responses to scripture, personal relationships with God, stressing individual conversions, and encouraging discipline and moral piety. Whitfield and is imitators appealed to the emotions of their listeners, a practice shocking in an “enlightened” age when rationality was so highly valued both within and outside the churches.


Yet, what made this type of evangelizing controversial was the attempt to disrupt the traditional social authority of the local churches. These traveling proselytizers, these evangelists, suggested that many of the Christians in attendance were unconverted because their clergy was unconverted. This would cause many of the “unconverted” clergy to become anti-revivalist. What is to remember at this point is that the term evangelical is still associated with proselytizing, an essential characteristic of the Protestant faith, it is not viewed as a separate entity. The threat the traveling preachers posed, as far as the established clergy could see, was the attraction of revivals as a new way to form a Christian event, and eventually form new churches. And what is more, even though the traveling preachers questioned the authority of the local clergy, they were all operating within the Calvinist tradition.

While the First Great Awakening was revitalizing Calvinist denominations, it would also plant the seeds for Calvinism’s declining influence on American Protestantism. The evangelists working within the burgeoning Baptist denomination began preaching about the sole validity of adult baptism, and “emphasizing the importance of an intensely dramatic conversion experience.” This experiential form of Christianity placed a priority on spiritual gifts above and beyond education, thus allowing lay people to preach and contribute to the clergy. This break from the traditional form of Protestant training allowed the denomination to spread quickly, since Baptist preachers with little or no training began evangelizing a more egalitarian interpretation of scripture. Many people would see “ordinary people” rather than the children of the landed gentry, preaching in front of the churches.

These revivals would also begin to create a space where ideas concerning the formation of individuals and views concerning social reforms would be blessed or damned by various revivalists—evangelicals. They begin emphasizing a form of individualism which would appear as a new emphasis within the liturgical and corporate denominations of American Protestantism. Social reforms become a very popular aspect of the 19th century “evangelical.” It is not a coincidence that social reforms to build a better Christian nation, during the 1840’s, are developed when large numbers of Roman Catholic immigrants are arriving on the East Coast and American Protestant missionaries, attempting to proselytize Roman Catholic Mexicans on the newly acquired South-Western coasts.


Protestant revivalism would become closely associated with the term “evangelical,” yet it does not become a separated identity. Another way to understand this is that a revival was a method Protestant’s used to evangelize and revitalize their congregations. American religious historians would use the term “evangelical” to describe these revivalists.

Retail religion...

O come all ye faithful: God is definitely not dead, but He now comes in many more varieties

someotherdude, I cannot offer comprehensive articles on the Roman 'poaching'* activities. But there is a lot of bad blood between the leadership of the Orthodoxies and Rome and I find notices in the papers regularly that e.g. the Russian and Ukrainian church leadership has again formally complained in Rome about aggressive Roman Catholic missionaries.
And there was much stink between Rome and the Anglican church, esp. after the Anglican church finally allowed women to become priests. Rome offered any (male) Anglican priest who would not accept that a conversion with a guaranteed employment as priest and a dispense for staying married. Iirc it became really nasty when some conservative bishops received the same offer. Ironically, a lot of catholic priests complained too because they saw it as extremly unfair that those potential converts could keep their wives while they themselves who were not turncoats had to be celibate. I am not up to date about Germany (although I live there) but I think here protestant clerics that convert to catholicism cannot immediately become priests and are not allowed to be married (divorce is not an option). German bishops seem to be afraid of the consequences of allowing the double standard as in Britain**.
To target clerics has the advantage that it often leads to more conversions in their parishes because the bond between the sheep and the shepherd/pastor is often stronger than the denominational convictions.

*I think it has little to do with theology but with the idea that there was a silent agreement between Moscow and Rome that each would keep to their traditional territories and that Rome broke that after the end of the cold war.
**Speculation on my part: the 'problem' with the 'Altkatholiken' (who split from Rome after Vaticanum I) may play a role here. Catholic priests that want to marry (or are secretly married) tend to switch to Old-Catholicism rather than becoming protestants when Rome drops the 15 ton weight on them. Allowing married convert priests in the 'true' church would be an admission that the other guys are not truly aberrant and could drive even more disgruntled priests into their arms.

Protestants actively evangelizing, Revivalists prior to the 1950s, didn’t go around using the term evangelical as their identity, their religious identity was tied to their denomination.

A couple of things, which you doubtless already know, but don't seem obvious from the above: evangelism isn't just tent revivals. Some denominations didn't really do the whole tent revival thing. IMO, the whole tent revival movement was really more about getting people emotionally bound to religion and not so much about the religion itself.

Also (and this is not based on any one thing but more of a sense of how my own sect of Christianity has evolved over the years), evangelism has grown into a combination of a) missionary work, with an eye toward both helping people that need it and bringing them closer to God, b) community outreach, to not only friends and family of current churchgoers but also to the general community surrounding the church itself, and c) exploration of American sub-cultures that may be wanting religion in their lives but don't see anything they like. That last bit can be absolutely anything, but currently my church synod is spending a lot of effort toward graduating bilingual (English/Spanish, primarily) pastors in order to better give lapsed Catholics of Hispanic origin some alternatives. Given how many lapsed Catholics there are in the world that aren't disavowing God but are instead disenchanted with an authoritarian church heirarchy, there is a lot of potential for recovery there.

So that's evangelism as I see it, with (as I said) no academic research behind that opinion.

I'd like to (N+1)th the N thumbs-up you've already gotten, SOD. Interesting stuff.

A couple of things, which you doubtless already know, but don't seem obvious from the above: evangelism isn't just tent revivals. Some denominations didn't really do the whole tent revival thing. IMO, the whole tent revival movement was really more about getting people emotionally bound to religion and not so much about the religion itself.

Yes, you’re right. When looking at how evangelicalism was perceived prior to 1976, tent revivals, missionary projects, tract publications, were placed under the evangelical projects of particular Protestant traditions. After 1976, though, one of the questions asked by pollsters that could place someone under the Evangelical label would be “Have you shared your faith with someone this week?”

From my notes:


1976 would become the perfect storm for the Neo-Evangelicals. All of the work they had done to revise American Protestant history in their image began to bear fruit. Jimmy Carter a Southern Baptist who spoke openly about being “born-again” and his faith, also referred to himself as an “evangelical.” This caused a flood of interest in the term and anyone who claimed it. In October of that year Time magazine published a short story called Counting Souls, wherein George Gallup Jr., president of the American Institute of Public Opinion and an active member of the American Episcopalian Church, announced that this is the “Year of the Evangelical.” Gallup, who had a born-again experience while in divinity school, would use new measuring techniques for understanding American religiosity. Instead of focusing on traditional church boundaries, he would use questions designed to measure feelings about particular religious positions, “Many Episcopalians and members of other denominations may think that ‘religious enthusiasm does not go hand in hand with intellectual seriousness and emotional balance,” says Pollster Gallup. But, he wonders, “Isn’t it time for us to bring our religious feelings out of the closet?” (Time, 1976) Not to be outdone, Newsweek announces that it is the Year of the Evangelical on the cover of the magazine. And so, by the end of that year, Evangelicalism, a theological term usually meant to describe the emotive zeal of particular Protestants had become a separate religious identity. It cannot be stressed enough, how radical it was for Gallup to structure his polls on emotive standards as opposed to church allegiances, this would assist the Neo-Evangelical cause since most Americans were beginning to embrace emotive types of spirituality, instead of the traditional systematic theologies dominant within the church structures.
Although Jimmy Carter could be said to be the first Evangelical President, he fell out of favor among most evangelicals, once they believed him to be more liberal than Southern Democrat. His stances on abortion, pornography, the ERA, gay rights and his toughened stance on regulations that denied tax exemptions to allegedly racially discriminatory private schools, many of which were conservative and fundamentalist Protestant academies.

+++

Another interesting observation is the Evangelicalism of Dwight Moody. He practiced a type of Pan-Protestant evangelism, after the Civil War, and Anglo-Protestant/”White Brotherhood in Christ” solidarity became important.

From my notes:

After the dust settled from the ruble of Reconstruction, Protestantism had become an amalgam of “whiteness, godliness, and American nationalism” coming to define not only postwar Protestantism but also the United States, “whites claimed a new national solidarity at the expense of racial reform, ministers and politicians marshaled religious and white supremacist rhetoric in order to wield social power and imperialism wrapped itself in sacred cloth” (Blum 2005). The victory of the Spanish-American War, augmented White Anglo-Saxon Protestant solidarity, it was at its zenith and triumphant. The “ethnic nationalism of whiteness, underpinned by Protestantism, had penetrated and had come to dominate the American psyche… whiteness, Protestantism, American nationalism, and imperialism were bound tightly together in the moral conception of whites by the turn of the century” (Blum 2005). This consolidation of Anglo-Saxonism was occurring during an era of massive migration from Europe, consisting primarily of Roman Catholics and Jews. It was a “massive influx of highly undesirable but nonetheless ‘white’ persons from” Europe.

+++

When the Neo-Evangelicals hit the scene in the 1950s, they found common cause with some of the conservatives in the mainline traditions, over the rise of Communism and Roman Catholic influence, thus the reception of a Pan-Protestant movement. After WW2, there was a growing middle-class of Southern Europeans and Jews in traditionally Anglo-Protestant areas of American life. And I think the “core values” argument shows up here. But that alliance breaks up toward the end of the 50’s.

German Lutherans and Anglo-Conformity

By the way Lutherans have always had an interesting history with other Protestant denominations, in the US. Since German (and to a lesser degree, Norwegian) ethnic identity was a strong aspect of Lutheranism, they have been uncomfortable with Anglo-Conformity. When the whole notion of an Anglo-Saxon identity is developing during the American Revolution, guys like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson seemed to suggest that all the real Anglo-Saxons were in the colonies, while the British were Normans and Germans were something else. Now this changed after the revolution, but German (and Norwegian) Lutheran ethnic identity still had some social problems with Anglo-Americans. Some saw their liturgies as “un-American” because they were conducted in the mother tongue, their serious beer drinking offended Prohibitionists (way before the 1900s), and other aspects of ethnic identity all seemed to place the Germans in suspect relation with Anglo-American identity. And this was way before WW1. I think this also explains why other northern European ethnics were so pro-Western expansion; they wanted to get away from the standards of Anglo-Conformity. Dutch in Michigan, German Lutherans and Roman Catholics to the Mid-West, Lutheran Norwegians and Swedes to the North-West. Anyway by the 1950s, all Northern Europeans (Scot-Irish, Welsh as well) became Anglo-Protestants (that’s when the WASP category becomes more explicit). As an aside, this doesn’t happen in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where Anglo means English. I wonder how separation from the Mother country facilitated this?

Now when it came to theories of race and ethnicity, many Anglo-American and German (in Germany) scientists shared research and agreed with many ideas, but this broke up prior to WW1.

Also (and this is not based on any one thing but more of a sense of how my own sect of Christianity has evolved over the years), evangelism has grown into a combination of a) missionary work, with an eye toward both helping people that need it and bringing them closer to God, b) community outreach, to not only friends and family of current churchgoers but also to the general community surrounding the church itself, and c) exploration of American sub-cultures that may be wanting religion in their lives but don't see anything they like. That last bit can be absolutely anything, but currently my church synod is spending a lot of effort toward graduating bilingual (English/Spanish, primarily) pastors in order to better give lapsed Catholics of Hispanic origin some alternatives.

I think there is something in the water. One of my cohorts is married to a second generation Mexican Lutheran pastor (she’s Black Lutheran). The church is in downtown LA, and I can’t help but notice the differences between the Pentecostal churches I grew up in, (my Grandfather was a pastor) and their Lutheran community. Because of the way Lutheran churches are structured, I think, the pastor does not always have to beg for money. I think, Lutheran missionary evangelicalism (using it in the technical sense) spend a lot of time cultivating and training clergy. Education and proper theology are way more important than charismatic presence. And mass conversions are suspect, tends to be one-on-one intimate stuff, when someone is becoming a members. And once a church site is chosen the denomination as a whole invest heavily in making it happen.

Pentecostal churches, independent or part of a denomination function as franchisees, that is the Pastor is autonomous, thus must have a charismatic presence. Always having to devise ways to keep the lights on, making church membership easy. And the dependence on big flashy events, constantly having to engage in some questionable “evangelical” activities (weight-lifters for Jesus, battle of the Christian bands, skateboarders for God) to appear relevant.

I think there was and is from the moment of conception a deep desire in Lutheranism for stable structures and an inherent distrust of 'enthusiasticism' (sorry, none of the existing words coming to mind really fit, at least in English). Luther never intended to be a revolutionary and he committed his worst deeds trying to curb the natural consequences his ideas had in the environment of his time. And I think this has stuck with the denomination ever since. It's about how to be a good and honest Christian within the given environment. Calvinism was far more radical and tried to shape the world according to its ideas, if need be by force. It's about creating the structures to best be a Christian in. To be nasty and oversimplifying, Pentecostals (and their forerunners) do not care about the environment, it's purely about the personal side and its relationship to the deity (may I call them the hippies of Christendom? ;-) ). So this variety lacks fundamental structures and is thus far more flexible but also unstable.

Are you sure the Social Protection numbers for other countries don't include health care (or something else)? SS benefits in this country are certainly not generous, but are they that much better in other countries? If not, maybe they are inefficient.

Harmut, I hope I’m not too late.

I’m not trying to defend Calvin, here but only shed light on the social context he was formulating his ideas. But I think Calvin, along with John Knox (Scottish Calvinist) were operating under different social conditions that Luther. Luther would have the backing of governments and communities within the forming German ethnic identity and state institutions. Calvin had the persecution of the French state fresh in his mind. Its treatment of Huguenots and such stuff. Calvinist in Scotland (John Knox) had English Imperialism and the Neo-Roman Catholic Anglican Church haunting them as well.

Calvinism becomes a form of anti-Imperialism, when Calvinist meet in Switzerland and form the New Geneva Bible. The anti-Monarch emphasis forces the creation of the King James Bible in England, by the way.

Eventually Calvinist will dominate Denmark and then early American society, and they learn the benefits of persecution. I understand Calvin even lured a friend to Switzerland to be burned. Either way, the Calvinist struggled without State power. And were assholes when they got it. (The Cromwells, but I think I’m sympathetic to Thomas).

By the way, you guys kind of helped me organize the 2nd chapter of my dissertation.

"may I call them the hippies of Christendom?"

During the 1970s, there were the Jesus Movement hippies, which were basically non-denominational charismatics (ie Pentecostals).

someotherdude, although I do not like Calvin at all, there is one thing attributed to him that he would utterly despise could he see it: The idea that there was a 1:1 relationship between (business) success (or lack thereof) and the salvation status of a person. To make him the patron saint* of work ethics OK, but not of Manchesterism. It's like Darwin and (social) Darwinism.**

As for the social conditions, I think there is truth in it but I think character issues also played a role. There were many reformators but it was those that fitted their environment best that had the lasting success. They were not interchangable.

*figuratively speaking of course. Saints and Protestants don't mix well (although the veneration of Luther in parts of Germany bordered on idolatry at times).
**Don't get me wrong, I do not accuse you of having made such statements.

"During the 1970s, there were the Jesus Movement hippies, which were basically non-denominational charismatics (ie Pentecostals)."
In the military and other places at the time I remember them being called Jesus freaks.

My prediction for the future, wealthy Muslims begin to make common cause with the “Judeo-Christian” tradition in a battle over the government protecting polytheists. And then we will hear bigots wax eloquently about the enduring tradition of monotheism.

The Abrahamic legacy of our forefathers!!

Once Islam is in the fold, Ahuru Mazda will be the next to be co-opted.

Back in my Bible College days, fundamentalists and evangelicals were seen to be largely the same - Biblical inerrancy, personal conversion, generally the same theologically. Fundamentalists a little more hardline, evangelicals perhaps a little less.

The main difference was more around issues of social and cultural separatism.

Fundamentalists wouldn't go to the movies, wouldn't dance or listen to certain kinds of music, wouldn't play cards (at least with a standard deck, odd games like Rook *might* be OK). No alcohol of any kind, grape juice served at communion. Men wouldn't have long hair, women wouldn't have short hair.

Evangelicals generally didn't worry about all of that.

This was as of almost 40 years ago, so the markers may have moved since then.

In today's new rightist ecumenicalism, both fundamentalists and evangelicals, not to mention clergy, seem to get laid on the sly more than the rest of us, while of course raking in the big Citizen United bucks stoking outrage against our efforts to prevent pregnancy.

They burn Beatle records, but not before listening closely to the naughty bits about pornographic priestesses letting their knickers down.


someotherdude wrote:

"I understand Calvin even lured a friend to Switzerland to be burned."

I have a relative like Calvin. Though not religious, he carries the faint whiff of burning martyr, the better for the rest of us to experience guilt. But I can never detect singe marks on HIM, so I know someone else is going to take the fall ... probably me.

I grow wary when he offers to fire up the barbecue.

Just for completeness: Calvin's victim was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Servetus>Michael Servetus.

I see Cervetus displeased Catholics and Protestants alike, who massed again in Tampa recently for planning sessions.

Mind you, I've nothing against burning at the stake.

After all, burning at the stake is protected under the Second Amendment, a well-regulated mob being necessary to light the faggots in a free State.

It's just that it's always the wrong people who are burned.

Harmut,
The idea that there was a 1:1 relationship between (business) success (or lack thereof) and the salvation status of a person.

He would wretch; it’s another form of works => salvation (freakin’ Arminianism!). And then there is the stereotype that Calvinism leads to elitist fatalism or some type of nihilism. These forms of stereotypes are interesting, in private school I was taught that Catholicism leads to fascism, this was during the 1970s.

*figuratively speaking of course. Saints and Protestants don't mix well (although the veneration of Luther in parts of Germany bordered on idolatry at times).

John Calvin is no hero, but we/I thank God, he wrote. Hero worship is certainly frowned upon in many Calvinist circles, which might explain some of the stereotypes as wet blankets.

As for the social conditions, I think there is truth in it but I think character issues also played a role. There were many reformators but it was those that fitted their environment best that had the lasting success. They were not interchangeable.

This could explain why so many of the Calvinists settled in the various British colonies, (No. Ireland, the Americas, New Zealand). I’m sure the English wanted them out of their hair. But I get the stereotype of the dour and stoic wet blanket. Thank God our faith isn’t supposed to be grounded on sparkling personalities ;-)
Russel,
Fundamentalists wouldn't go to the movies, wouldn't dance or listen to certain kinds of music, wouldn't play cards (at least with a standard deck, odd games like Rook *might* be OK). No alcohol of any kind, grape juice served at communion. Men wouldn't have long hair, women wouldn't have short hair.

That resembles my adolescent church communities. The isolationism fundamentalists practiced happened in the late 20s, the term was developed in the 1910s. The Modernist-Fundamentalist Controversy drove them into their own sectarian communities. Billy Graham and the Neo-Evangelicals wanted to change that, and by the 1970s, many fundamentalists began to agree with him.

And this reminds me of some other things. Reinhold Niebuhr’s response to Billy Graham, well many liberal Protestants, of the Lutheran variety, Paul Tillich seemed give Fundamentalists heart attacks. When the Fundamentalists were organizing, it was a struggle to pull conservative Lutherans into the fold; although they did not trust liberal Protestants they didn’t trust the Fundamentalists either. One man’s “fundamentals” is another’s heresy.

Another thing I find interesting is the differences among all the conservative/orthodox/fundamentalist. During the 1980s and the threat of satanic themes in Rock music, conservative liturgical Protestants seemed to stay away from that noise. And the kids I knew from those communities openly listened to “satanic” rock…and they danced! Outside of church! (Pentecostals could dance in the spirit, in church), while Fundamentalist Baptists and Pentecostals were all about Satan being woven into all aspects of popular culture. I have to admit, there was a freedom I experienced, when I entered the liturgical Protestant fold, there just wasn’t this constant fear. To be fair, I’ve met many ex-Lutherans and ex-Calvinist who found the “active” Holy Spirit to be liberating from the “staid” and boring liturgies…I guess the grass is always greener.

I still enjoy watching Praise Breaks on the youtubes, reminds me of my youth. (And for the record, there were way more white and Asian praise breaks on youtube, wonder what happened?). And I ain’t to proud, I never pass up a ">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vd_C5KX_lk&feature=related"> Pentecostal revival.

Retail religion...
O come all ye faithful: God is definitely not dead, but He now comes in many more varieties

Posted by: CharlesWT |

At some point I’m going to get to my books that study the way Protestantism is developing in South Korea. There was a period where there was a reformed/charismatic tension, now, much like the US, evangelicalism has become the common identifier. I understand that there are some Presbyterians that still won’t allow charismatic forms in their congregations, but they are much smaller. But something is developing between evangelicalism and Korean nationalism. There are many missionaries from South Korea, in the US, hoping to bring this Godless place “back to its roots.”

I think America has always been a Godless liberal Protestant society (and liberal does not mean enlightened!), and I hope it stays that way.

Here's a possibly interesting factoid about evangelicalism and Christianity in South Korea. I'm a member of a large teaching organization here in Japan and we have these sub-groups called 'special interest groups'. They serve an organizational purpose, allowing groups of interested members who wouldn't have enough people on their own to create a sub-organization that can meet their needs. The president of the organization noted that the Korean equivalent of our organization actually has a SIG for Christian English teachersI boggled a bit when I found out, I think it is really difficult to imagine a similar teaching organization in almost any other country with that (I don't know the structure of all the TESOL affiliates, but none of the ones I am aware with have a similar subgroup). It speaks to a much higher comfort level with open acknowledgement of Christian beliefs and probably ties into a particular kind of relationship between nationalism and religious identity.

I wonder if the organization allows Catholics?

From CharlesWT’s article:

“Counting Catholics (which many Korean Protestants don't), Christians make up close to 30% of the population. “Koreans don't play church,” says an American elder at Yoido.”

These forms of stereotypes are interesting, in private school I was taught that Catholicism leads to fascism, this was during the 1970s.

Ironically one of the important papal social encyclicals (probably Quadragesimo Anno but I am too lazy to look it up) described fascism as the secular version of the ideal Catholic state. The complaint was not about the authoritarian nature but that the fascist states kept too much of the power for themselves and shared it too little with the church. Most fascist states made arrangements with the church* that silenced those complaints. Only Nazi Germany was unwilling to fulfill its side of the bargain (that Hitler had entered in in obviously bad faith to keep the Vatican off his back at a critical time period).
So, the RCC had often a very cosy relationship with fascist regimes but had rarely a direct hand in installing them (just happy to do the maintenance). The church has learned to live with democracy (despite declaring it absolutely impossible
less than a century ago). But I say don't tempt them or they might relapse.

*in the East with the Orthodoxies instead

Franco in Spain, the fascist regime in Portugal, Pinochet in Chile, …most of the right-wing governments of Latin America, all had close intimate relationships with their Roman Catholic churches.

But, I think my teachers were referring to Italy and Germany. I think they tended to support the right-wing regime in Latin America.

Now that I remember, their observation went something like this: “Mussolini and Hitler were both catechized in the RC, and were never excommunicated. Luther was an outstanding Christian and they found the time to excommunicate him!”

I used to repeat that stuff when I wanted to annoy my RC friends.

I understand Calvin even lured a friend to Switzerland to be burned.

Hartmut is correct, that was Michael Servetus.

I'm not sure if Servetus and Calvin were friends, and I'm not sure Calvin lured him to Geneva. But, somewhat inexplicably, Servetus did in fact show up in Geneva at an inopportune moment, and was imprisoned and then burned alive.

His crimes were proposing a non-trinitarian theory of Jesus' divine nature, and opposing infant baptism.

Calvin actually argued for beheading him, but some of the others in the Geneva circle thought that too lenient, so burned alive it was.

There are days when I don't understand how the human race has survived its own bloodlust. To my knowledge, it's only us and the ants who set out to kill fellow members of our own species with such a remarkable combination of zeal and organization skill.

To bad there was no penitentiary system. Then again.....

russell, according to the German wiki entry Servetus did not intend to stay in Geneva but to step from his incoming boat right into an outgoing one. But the latter did not show up, so he had to stay overnight. As I remember from school (daily) church visits were mandatory in Geneva under pain of arrest for non-attendance. Why he walked into a church where Calvin himself preached remains a puzzling question though. That kind of risk taking seems to be a human trait. It somehow reminds me of the German writer Erich Kästner who attended the public burning of his books by the Nazis and was recognized. He managed to hide in the crowd though. Ironically he became the victim of another book burning in post-war West Germany by conservative Christians. In US terms, he was seen as part of the gay agenda. He was the only author whose books ended on both pyres.

"There are days when I don't understand how the human race has survived its own bloodlust."

It's not the only lust.

"It's not the only lust."

I lust a thread that can move seamlessly from the Pol Potian, autonomic savagery of the anthill to the bedroom romps of Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall.

It's more than a little disappointing that people were still being burned alive for heresy more than two centuries after the Templars, and that the practice continued for more than another century after Servetus.

By some accounts, wood that was not fully dry was used to burn Servetus, so that his execution would take longer.

WWJD? Not that.

It is, really, amazing to me how people can get from, frex, the sermon on the mount, to burning someone alive in the most painful way they can conjure up.

Crooked timber.

Eh, wet wood produces lots of smoke and is likely to render the victim unconscious before th flames reach them. It was a standard practice to observe, whether the smoke got blown away from the victim (leading to an agonisingly slow death) or into her/his face (quick unconsciousness). The former was seen as a divine affirmation of guilt while some who had the luck of the latter got posthumously rehabilitated.
The use of extra-dry (and thus smoke-free) wood was seen and used as a means of aggravated punishment, esp. for the unrepentant. Another measure was to keep the area directly around the victim free of wood and to light the pyre in stages so the suffering could be prolonged. It was a cruel science, something for experts.
But I think the pinnacle of perversion were the witch ovens built in some places (the best known in Neisse in Silesia). The purpose behind those was to allow mass burnings while keeping the fuel consumption low. When I hear that on one occasion 69 witches were burned in one go using that contraption and knowing where it took place comparisions to the holocaust inevitably come to mind (and according to some reports in the final days the gas chambers got skipped and the victims put into the crematories alive). Civilisation and progress indeed.

This hung in my psyche for a few days after I read it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_%28elephant%29

Especially that the children were summoned to witness.

Now cut that out, Mitt!

Martin Amis' ruminations on Evil, particularly the exceptionalism of Hitler and Stalin, are relevant.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Martin-Amis-Contemplates-Evil-165590986.html?c=y&story=fullstory

Sullivan hat tip.

The politics of burning witches is an interesting one. I listened to a collection of lectures by Teofilo Ruiz, Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition. An incredible journey through the medieval world.

The blurb: This two-part series invites you to consider what might be called the "underbelly" of Western society, a complex mixture of deeply embedded beliefs and unsettling social forces that has given rise to our greatest saints and our most shameful acts. The "terror of history," according to Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz, is a deeply held belief—dating from the ancient Greeks to Nietzsche and beyond—that the world is essentially about disorder and emptiness, and that human beings live constantly on the edge of doom.

He compares and contrasts the reasoning/politics behind burning witches and heretics, in the RC world and Protestant world. I think he suggests there were more witch burnings in Protestant societies because of the breakup of a centralized church. While in Roman Catholic societies, many women would have been accused of heresy, instead of witchcraft.

These days few serious scholars are willing to give numbers about how many people were condemned or executed as witches because it is (often) impossible to separate them from the heresy persecutions*. It was an important part in the invention of the 'new type witch' to susbsume their alleged deeds under heresy. One should not forget that up to the infamous witch bull (and the commentary about it that became known as the Hammer of Witches) it was heresy to believe in the reality of witchcraft. It was seen as a devil induced hallucination and the church prosecuted attempts to spread these false ideas. Then came the 180° turn and it became heresy to not believe in the reality of witchcraft. The Hammer of Witches begins with a long section on that very topic, immunizing itself from criticism by defining it as the worst kind of heresy. Only after that it begins to present its absurd paranoid fantasies. Btw, it must be one of the worst books ever written even if one looks only at form and 'literary' quality. Large parts are close to unreadable (and often chapter titles do not match content). No surprise at all that the authors had to forge letters of approval from authorities (and then took care that those editions containing them would not be sold where those authorities resided).
----
Although the witch craze got started from above, it was never centralized. Each territory decided for itself, whether to join in or to go after the witchhunters instead. And a lot was done at the base without official approval. At least that was the case in Greater Germany. Spain suppressed any witchhunts mercilessly (after doing some remarkable research that came to the conclusion that it was all a fraud). In Scandinavia it became a question of pure power politics. Burning witches in a place became a way to lay claim to the territory the place was in. A lot of men and women in the North had to die because the kings of Norway/Denmark and Sweden/Finland quarreled about borders in Lappland while at the same time trying to subdue the local Sami (whose male shamans were prime targets)**. Britain had a competition between for-profit private witchfinders and the state. Interestingly Britain was the state that stopped the madness first while keeping the laws on the book longest (famously a modified version was used twice during WW2 to go after fraudulent spiritualists that were suspected of leaking military secrets).

*for the clear-cut cases Protestants seem to have been slightly more active indeed, so after adjustment for relative strength Protestants killed more but not extremly so. Again, this concerns mainly Germany.
**I recently did some reading about this for a private project of mine.

God's vengeance is like water.

Disallow burning at the stake and the searing water of God's vengeance will find a work-around, in this case by causing disabled children to be born, according to this current-day sadistic, murderous, vermin Inquisitor:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/09/10/tiny-vengeance-ghosts-everywhere/

Burning witches in a place became a way to lay claim to the territory the place was in.

I live quite near Salem MA. The church I attend was founded in 1629 by the first generation of Puritans, and many of the folks involved in the witch trials were members.

I work in what was then Salem Village, and the Rebecca Nurse homestead is literally a block away from where I'm sitting now.

The roster of witchcraft accusers and accused tracks quite closely to a series of land disputes from the time. One of the aspects of being convicted and executed for witchcraft is that your property would not go to your heirs, but would revert to the Commonwealth, who would then commonly sell it. The buyers were frequently well connected folks.

There are other dimensions to the trials - town vs country folk, religious bigotry and superstition, racism, misogyny - but the interest of some folks in the land forfeited by the convicted "witches" is a prominent one.

Cherchez l'argent.

Do you know what he Latin word for country/rural folk is? Paganus. Strong hints that Christianity was/had become the religion of the 'superior' city dwellers while the backward 'inferior' people outside the walls stuck to the old 'pagan' superstitions. I think it even entered the Germanic languages. In German it is Heiden (heathland dwellers), in English heathen. Well, now you know why Scotsmen are not true Christians ;-)

" I understand that there are some Presbyterians that still won’t allow charismatic forms in their congregations, but they are much smaller."

I went to a PCA church (Presbyterian Church in America--a conservative denomination not to be confused with the mainline group) when I was in my 20's. The pastor was actually put on trial for heresy by a faction within his congregation. They'd kept a file of all the heretical comments they thought he'd made from the pulpit over the years and finally brought him up on charges (in a church court). I attended some of the "trial",which was held on a weekend, I think. He was acquitted. But anyway, one of the charges was that on one Sunday he expressed a hope that "gifts of the Spirit" would manifest themselves in the congregation, including tongues. That was apparently a big no-no.

I was simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by the proceedings. I suppose it was all proof of one of Calvinism's most beloved doctrines, total depravity. It reminds me in some ways of the political power struggles that go on in the co-op building where my wife and I live. People are ridiculous.

Still, at least with church courts and co-op elections there aren't any prison camps or torture centers.

Russell,
“misogyny” for sure.
I think Salem was not typical and it appears many Puritan elders outside of that community, found no grounds for the mass death. However, they were more concerned about protecting the image or reputation of male leadership. One of the Mather pastors, (Cotton’s father?) seemed to explain that replacing the leadership, but no renunciation.

Donald Johnson,
I have to be honest; I find church discipline, especially in matters of doctrine, to be an essential aspect of church communities. A Pentecostal pastor who argues, from the pulpit, that the gift of tongues ended with the last apostle, would not even have an opportunity for a trial. Submitting yourself to a church tradition does mean a certain amount of “un-freedom”. I think, I get worried when I see church members demanding the State to act as arbiter of church discipline.

Even Jonathan Edwards’ church got rid of him when he started a checklist to check if if some were part of the elect.

That should have read:

One of the Mather pastors, (Cotton’s father?) seemed to explain that replacing the leadership was important but done quietly, but no renunciation. I think, he was more concerned with the image of male leadership. It has been a long time since I’ve read a history on this era.

One of the Mather pastors, (Cotton’s father?) seemed to explain that replacing the leadership, but no renunciation.

Increase, Cotton's father, counseled some restraint IIRC.

Cotton was all over it like a cheap suit.

My general impression is that after a year or so, everyone was basically horrified that it had gotten so out of hand.

They started out going after the local weirdos, but before long they were accusing (and executing) people who were full members, in very good standing, of the Puritan congregations. Which was a very big deal.

I think folks started feeling a combination of "what the hell is going on?" and "anybody (including me) could be next".

It became a matter of embarrassment, if not shame, fairly quickly.

Only one of the original accusers, however, every publicly apologized, as far as I know.

It was a standard practice to observe, whether the smoke got blown away from the victim (leading to an agonisingly slow death) or into her/his face (quick unconsciousness). The former was seen as a divine affirmation of guilt while some who had the luck of the latter got posthumously rehabilitated.

Science, bitches!

I think it goes to show that not all "rationalisms" are the same.

I'm not anti-science, but the sciences, in all eras seem to generate similar blind spots.

My comment earlier, "To bad there was no penitentiary system. Then again..." had Foucault's thoughts about the development of the penal system under the era of the Enlightenment.

But your comment is still funny.

"I have to be honest; I find church discipline, especially in matters of doctrine, to be an essential aspect of church communities."

Well, on the purely logical level, that seems strange to me unless you happen to know beyond a shadow of a doubt which church gets all the theological details right. Otherwise you're causing a lot of bad feeling (and in the bad old days, a lot more than just bad feeling) and solely because of your own opinions dressed up as theological certainties and if you're not even correct, you're causing trouble for no good reason at all. If someone wants that, join some sort of highly disciplined political party. Maybe the Bolsheviks. Unfortunately I think the Bolshies probably copied the Christians.

Of course you could be speaking from some sociological viewpoint, where it doesn't actually matter whether doctrines X, Y, and Z are true, but only that they serve as social glue that holds the community together. Religion can give meaning and structure to people's lives, never mind whether any of it is actually true, and if you have dissenters within the ranks they can damage or destroy what others find precious. I have no interest in employing heresy trials to protect a community in that way, but I could see where others might. But what happens is either that the community fragments (the story of Protestantism) , or else it hangs together, like the Catholics, but at the cost of having an authoritarian structure which is often abusive and hypocritical. One reason I like the Episcopal Church is that it tries to hang together. Of course the conservatives, or some of them, are leaving, and on the other side I'm not crazy about people like Spong, but I much prefer the attempt to maintain community in the face of much disagreement over the kind of unity that comes either from repression or from endless fragmentation into smaller and smaller groups of likeminded people.


Personally I find church discipline over controversial and basically secondary doctrines wholly repulsive, a source of bad feelings and bickering about things that nobody really knows and that's at the best of times. What I saw at my church back then was a bunch of self-righteous men (and you'd better believe in the PCA it's men) who were keeping tabs on this pastor for years, until they had enough evidence (in their view) to bring him to trial. Friendships ended. No doubt God approved, because I'm sure nothing pleases Him more than to watch His self-proclaimed followers slander each other, claim to know things they don't know and backbite in His Name.

"One reason I like the Episcopal Church is that it tries to hang together."

Without repression, I meant to say. Though of course there's politics within the Episcopal Church too. But at least some of the liberals, moderates, and conservatives, along with the high and low church elements are trying to stay together.

But ideas and interpretation do matter.

End- times eschatology, faith healing, gift of prophecy, using political views as a guide to who is “really” Christian, “born-again” experience as the foundation of faith, didn’t practice infant baptism, American flag or Israeli flag in the sanctuary, a Pope (and there are more) are all things I would not tolerate to be taught as gospel. I would not join a church that would tolerate those ideas from the pulpit. That doesn't mean I think those who believe them are not Christian, however they could not be part of the Christianity I practice. What gets taught from the pulpit must be a reflection of proper theology.

A political example:
The split between evolutionary socialists and revolutionary socialists is a good example. Evolutionary socialists believed in working within the democratic process, while revolutionary socialists believed the democratic process to be corrupted by capitalism. There was no way, for the two separate movements to exist as one political unit.

But also, Protestantism is inherently schismatic.

"I think folks started feeling a combination of "what the hell is going on?" and "anybody (including me) could be next"."
Or, maybe, they just ran out the moldy rye they had been eating.

Harmut and russel,

I'm totally copying & pasting this thread.

Harmut, I am just now listening to a lecture on "pagan" conversion in Scandinavia. Viking Christians trip me out! (one of the TTC lectures).

Would anybody be interested in sharing books on PDF ?

someotherdude, you could give Gerpla (aka The Happy Warriors) by Halldór Laxness a try (don't know whether there is a good English translation though, the German one is superb). Written in the style of the old Icelander Sagas it's among other things a satirical and rather dark take on Christianisation in the North. Let's say that St.Olav appears a bit different than in his hagiographies. From what I know it keeps rather close to the historical facts.

Late to the party, but I'm a Dead Thread Head...

Having moved from the States to Canada two years ago it's been very interesting seeing the different relationship people in Canukistan have to their government. They expect it to work! And it mostly does. When I needed to get my US license and car registration changed I was puzzled by the paperwork -- I CALLED the govt department in Toronto and was given the information. And then the govt employee CALLED ME BACK because he wanted to make sure I understood something he thought might not have been clear. Could have knocked me over with a feather. Two years later, I'm still trying to get a piece of paper from the NJ DMV that my husband needs, with no success and no idea how to get through the bureaucratic wall -- and since Christie shut down many of the DMV offices, if I go to NJ to get the form I'll need to plan to spend the entire day waiting in line...probably to find out that I can't get that form at that office.

The attitude is entirely different. Much more relaxing, as a result.

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